From Titanic Search to Fallout: Who will pay for the Attempted sub rescue?


On Thursday, after a massive search operation, the U.S. Coast Guard confirmed the worst news: the five people on board the Titan submersible had died after debris was found near the wreck of the Titanic. The vessel had suffered a “catastrophic implosion”. The U.S. Navy had detected a sound consistent with an implosion when communications were lost with the Titan an hour and 45 minutes into its two-hour descent to the wreckage on Sunday.
The Navy analysed its acoustic data and found an anomaly “consistent with an implosion or explosion in the general vicinity of where the Titan submersible was operating when communications were lost,” a senior official told the Associated Press on Thursday.
According to reports, the information was shared with the U.S. Coast Guard, which decided to continue the search operation and “make every effort to save the lives on board”.
Meanwhile, James Cameron, director of the Titanic movie and a submersible expert who has visited the wreck 33 times, said he had predicted Titan’s fate days before the news was confirmed.
“I felt in my bones what had happened,” Cameron told the BBC.

A Costly Endeavor

“For the sub’s electronics to fail and its communication system to fail, and its tracking transponder to fail simultaneously… sub’s gone.
” [It] felt like a prolonged and nightmarish charade where people are running around talking about banging noises and talking about oxygen and all this other stuff.”
We and Canada deployed several vessels, aircraft and other specialist equipment for the search.
At a press conference on Thursday, Rear Admiral John Mauger said, “We were able to mobilise an immense amount of gear to the site in just a remarkable amount of time”.
But all this will cost a lot of money.
The ongoing search and rescue effort for the missing Titan submersible with five people on board, involving a massive response from American, Canadian and French authorities, is vast in scale, including the U.S. Navy and the Coast Guard.
The expense for such an endeavour is likely equally great, and it is still being determined whether taxpayers in the countries involved will ultimately be required to pay it. The passengers aboard the submersible paid $250,000 each for the experience of diving on the Titanic.

Debating the Financial Accountability

“These people paid a lot of money to do something hazardous and hard to recover from,” said Chris Boyer, the executive director of the National Association for Search and Rescue, a nonprofit that focuses on wilderness rescues. The rescue mission, he said, would “probably cost millions.”
In the United States, search and rescue efforts — who conducts and pays for them — depending on where you get lost, Mr Boyer said. Some states, like New Hampshire, charge individuals for rescues if the people are determined to have been reckless.
Cynthia Hernandez, a spokeswoman for the National Park Service, said that the agency does not charge for search and rescue operations within its parks because it considers them a public service. The park service conducted 3,428 searches and rescues last year.
There has been much discussion about how to find the Titan, the tourist submersible that disappeared Sunday while carrying five people down to the wreckage of the Titanic, and how difficult it will be to locate the small vessel in the vast North Atlantic. But even if the monumental effort by U.S. and Canadian authorities to find the sub is successful, that’s only the first challenge.
Rescuing the five people from the sub would be another challenge entirely.

The Financial Aftermath of the Submarine Recovery Effort

Without any sightings at the surface, the only clue rescuers had to go on by Wednesday afternoon was the sound described as banging noises detected by surveillance planes. That left open the possibility of a scenario where the submersible could still be found floating on or near the surface, allowing rescuers to open it — it can only be opened from the outside — and rescue the crew.
But it will be a much more challenging proposition if it is on the sea floor near the Titanic wreckage.
“I think if it’s on the seabed, there are so few submarines that are capable of going that deep, and so therefore, I think it was going to be almost impossible to affect a sub-to-sub rescue,” Titanic expert Tim Matlin told the Reuters news agency.
Ralf Bachmayer, a professor of marine environmental technology and marine engineering at the University of Bremen in Germany, told CBS News on Wednesday there were two main possibilities for a rescue if the sub is on the sea floor. It could be winched up, which he said would be “very difficult” at the depth in the area, which is around 13,000 feet, or almost two and a half miles.

Exploring the Cost of the Attempted Submarine Rescue

Matlin cast doubt on the feasibility of such an operation, telling Reuters that rescuers “can’t have a line tethering it down because it would be too heavy and too much drag,” given the length of cabling that would be required.
The other possibility could be a flotation device, which Bachmayer called a lift bag, that could be slid under the sub to help lift it to the surface.
But the Titan could be entangled in debris in the broad field of the Titanic’s wreckage. That rescue attempt would require remotely operated vehicles to gain sufficient access to slide such a device under the 21-foot-long submersible.

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Olivia Wilson
By Olivia Wilson


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